Role of microRNAs in host defense against Echinococcus granulosus infection: a preliminary assessment
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is a neglected helminthic zoonosis caused by the larval stage of the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus s.l. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are regulators of gene expression that have been linked with the pathogenesis of several human diseases, but little exists in the available literature about miRNAs in CE. Here, we investigate the expression profiles of 84 microRNAs relevant to the function of lymphocytes and other immune cells during CE infection in the peripheral blood of patients with cysts in active and inactive stages. We applied the microRNA PCR array technology to blood samples from 20 patients with a single hepatic CE cyst in either the active (CE3b) or inactive (CE4–CE5) stage. Our results show a significant upregulation of eight miRNAs (let-7g-5p, let-7a-5p, miR- 26a-5p, miR- 26b-5p, miR- 195-5p, miR- 16-5p, miR- 30c-5p, and miR- 223-3p) in patients with active cysts compared to those with inactive cysts. The high expression of these miRNAs in patients with active cysts suggests their role in a specific host immune response against the infection. Further work in this direction may help shed light on the pathogenesis of human CE.
KeywordsMicroRNA Cystic echinococcosis Echinococcus granulosus Hydatidosis Zoonosis Neglected disease
We thank Marcela Cucher (Universidad de Buenos Aires - IMPAM-UBA-CONICET), for critical evaluation and discussion of the manuscript.
This study was partially supported by funds granted by the EU FP7 Project HERACLES n. 602051 (to E. Brunetti).
Compliance with ethical standards
All patients signed an informed consent form for storage and scientific use of the leftover serum at the moment of blood sampling for routine serology. This retrospective study was performed according to the guidelines of Institutional Review Board of San Matteo Hospital Foundation, Pavia, Italy, on the use of biological specimens for scientific purposes in keeping with Italian Law (art.13 D.L gs 196/2003). All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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